Nick Carr on July 31, 2020 0 Comments Commercial hop farming in Australia stretches back into the 1800s, with certain hop farms like Bushy Park Estate in Tasmania (established in 1867), continually in operation. However, it is only much more recent – starting in the 1980s – that the Australian breeders have taken on aroma hops. Australia’s effort in the arena of aroma varieties began as a way to develop varieties that would have a noble European pedigree but grow well in the local climate. Their first success came in 1986. It was a selection from an open-pollinated Hallertau Mittelfrueh. At the time, the new variety was named Southern Hallertau in honor of its mother. Later the name was changed to Helga. Helga’s breeding gave her some of the same delicate floral, pleasantly spicy, and subtly herbal characteristics found in European varieties. Unlike, many of today’s new varieties that surge to the top of every brewer’s most wanted list, Helga remained a good, but not overly popular hop for almost a full decade. Once the craft brew craze got into full stride, growers saw an upswing in demand for Helga as more new breweries opened and interest in novel varieties increased. For a time things looked pretty good for the old girl, but in 2017, Hop Products of Australia (HPA) decided to stop growing Helga and Summer (another early aroma variety; propagated from Saaz) on its farms. These were replaced largely by more Galaxy Hops and Enigma Hops. (Note: It is unlikely you’re local homebrew supply shop carries Helga. You can still find Helga pellets from previous seasons through larger suppliers online, but it will get tougher and tougher to source as supplies dwindle.) In a BrewNews article, sales and marketing manager Owen Johnson said of Helga “A variety with substitution as its main purpose is not really in keeping with [our goal of] a fully differentiated portfolio of offerings.” How To Brew With Helga Hops If you plan on growing hops in your backyard, we would make a few recommendations to help you in your endeavors. Before you choose the variety you want to grow, it is a good idea to talk to other local growers or possibly someone at your local homebrew supply store. They may be able to point you toward varieties that grow well in your area. Helga is a proprietary variety, neither rhizomes nor plants are available to the hobby gardener. However, be sure to check out our other hop profiles for some other planting possibilities. General Characteristics: Origin- Australia Growth Rate– Not Available Yield– 1600 – 2400 kg/ha Cones– Information Not Available Maturity– Early Susceptible to– Information Not Available Resistant to– Information Not Available Ease of Harvest– Information Not Available Storage– Information Not Available Patented or Public- Proprietary Acid Composition Breakdown Note: Hop oil composition will vary between harvest years and where the hop was grown. The numbers below are meant to be an average only. Alpha Acid: 5.4 – 7.3% Beta Acid: 5.0 – 7.0% Co-Humulone: 20 – 23% Oil Composition Breakdown Total Oils: 0.6 – 1.0 ml/100g Myrcene Oil (% of total): 1 – 13 Humulene Oil (% of total: 35 – 55 Caryophyllene Oil (% of total): 10 – 15 Franesene Oil (% of total): 0% B-Pinene Oil (% of total): Not Available Linalool Oil (% of total): 0.1 – 0.6 Geraniol Oil (% of total): Not Available Aroma & Sensory Description: Helga brings much the same refined character you find in classic European hops. Aroma is a mild, but pleasant mix of floral and spicy, along with herbal whispers and subtle earthy tones. The herbal, spicy character has been described by some brewers as reminding them subtly of darjeeling tea. Availability: It is unlikely you’re local homebrew supply shop carries Helga. You can still find Helga pellets from previous seasons through larger suppliers online, but it will get tougher and tougher to source as supplies dwindle. As mentioned in the history, in 2017 Hop Products Australia (HPA) made the decision to stop growing Helga. So, unless something changes we are not likely to see Helga on the market much longer. A couple places still offer Helga single hop experimental kits. But I’d suggest if you want to try this hop, you hurry and get what you can now. Who knows how long it’ll be around. Use: Generally, Helga is thought of as an aroma cultivar, but she can also fulfill a bittering role. She is a good replacement for hops of German noble character, if these cannot be sourced for one reason or another. She brings the same refined character typical of her mother, Hallertau Mittelfreu, but, no doubt, with her own whispers of Australian terroir. This makes Helga the perfect choice where experimentation and European type ales and lagers cross paths and the herbal/earthy tones in her profile are a good companion for malt forward ales and lagers. Can Substitute With/For These Hops: Hallertau Mittelfruh Common Beer Styles Using Helga Hops: Saison Munich Helles Helles Bock Rauchbier Dunkles Bock Fiest/Marzen Kellerbier Altbier Munich Dunkel Schwarzbier Porter Stout Australian Sparkling Ale Commercial Examples: Because it is a hop on the decline, at least for the moment, it is pretty hard to find any commercial breweries making use of it. Hopefully, things will turn around for Helga and she’ll come back into fashion, but until she does, the best you can do is try the variety in your homebrewing…and even this may not be an option for much longer.